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How to Grow Great Yellow Gentian

Written by Stephanie on April 9th, 2017

Great yellow genian (Gentiana lutea) is also known as yellow gentian. The plant is originally from wet pastures in mountainous areas of Central and Southern Europe and Asia Minor.  It is a perennial.

Great yellow genian is an upright perennial that grows up to six and a half feet tall.  It spreads out up to six feet.  The leaves are eight to twelve inches long.  The flowers are tubular and up to one inch long. They grow in dense whorls on the stem.  The flowers bloom in summer.

The root of this plant is used to make a liqueur.  It is also used to make tonics and bitters. The upper parts of this plant are used in tonics and as an antiseptic.

Great yellow genians need constant soil moisture.  The soil around them should never get dry as they are not drought tolerant.  They are hardy in zones five and eight.  This is a slow growing plant.  It takes years to reach its full height, but the plant may live fifty years.  It will not bloom until its third to seventh year.

Great yellow genian is usually propagated by seed.  As with all perennials, it is possible to dig the plant up in early spring and divide it.  This is complicated because it has a long tap root and resents being disturbed.  If you do dig them up, make sure you get all of the tap root when you do so.

If propagating by seed, let the flower stay on the plant until dry, hard seed pods have formed.  Bring them in and remove the seeds from the pod.  Allow to air dry.  Green yellow genian seeds must be stratified before planting.  The easiest way to do this is to put them in your refrigerator for six to eight weeks.  Do not freeze them as that will prevent the seed from germinating.

After the seeds have been stratified, they are ready to plant.  The best way to plant them is by using large peat pots filled with a general seed germinating product.  These seeds germinate better lying on the top of the soil.  The pots should be placed in a dark place or covered with newspaper to keep the seeds in the dark.  Once they germinate, place the new plants in a greenhouse for their first winter.  Keep them in slight shade while they are in the greenhouse.

Once the plants have reached sufficient size, you can plant them outside where you intend for them to stay.  If you planted the great yellow gentian in a peat pot, you can just set it in the ground and you will not have to disturb its roots.  If you have the plant in a pot, be careful to remove the whole plant, tap root included.  Plant it gently in a hole that is wide and deep enough that the tap root is not cramped.  Water the plant in and keep the soil moist.


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